Strawberries 101: Health Benefits, Nutrition Facts, Selection and Storage, and More

Medically Reviewed
hand holding strawberries
Strawberries offer vitamin C and fiber, among other nutrients essential for your health.Shannon West/Getty Images
As perhaps the most recognized?berries, strawberries are a popular spring and summer treat. It’s estimated that strawberries are the fifth most consumed fruit in the United States.

While coveted for both their taste and texture, strawberries are also nutritional powerhouses that belong in an overall healthy diet. The benefits of this red and juicy fruit have even been appropriated for skin-care products in recent years.

Read more about the treasured strawberry and its many perks for your health below.

What Are Strawberries Exactly?

The strawberry's scientific name is Fragaria x ananassa. It's technically a hybrid member of the?Rosaceae?(rose) family.

Other members of this family include apples, apricots, and peaches.

While popular in the United States, strawberries are thought to have originated in Europe, where the ancient Romans prized the berry as a decoration rather than as an edible fruit. It’s thought that strawberries were first cultivated for food in France around the 1300s. The French later discovered a version of the berry in Chile (Fragaria chiloensis)

and brought it back with them in the 1700s, but it was found that the Chilean version was difficult to grow in dryer, hotter climates.

In the 1800s, a strawberry known as the Hovey?variety was cultivated in the United States. It’s the closest variety to the modern American strawberry. This version was developed through hybridization efforts in England. Meanwhile, a variety native to North America (Fragaria virginiana) was discovered?and also taken back to Europe.

The modern strawberry is believed to be derived from a combination of berries found across the Americas and Europe.

Today, more than half the strawberries produced in the United States are grown in California.

In fact, California grows more than one billion pounds of the berries annually. But they’re easy to grow at home in gardens, and they thrive on farms in all 50 states.

How to Cook It: Roasted Balsamic Strawberry Sauce

Everyday Health staff nutritionist Kelly Kennedy, RDN, shows how to make a low-calorie, antioxidant-rich strawberry balsamic
How to Cook It: Roasted Balsamic Strawberry Sauce

What Are the Nutrition Facts for Strawberries? Calories, Carbs, Sugar, and More

Like other plant foods, strawberries are a nutrient-dense, low-calorie selection. The U.S. Department of Agriculture?(USDA) outlines the following measures in its nutrition report for 100 grams (g) (about ? cup) of raw strawberries:

As you can see, strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C. Incorporating them into your diet can help you achieve the recommended amount (75 mg per day for women and 90 mg per day for men), and reap the benefits of this nutrient.

Additionally, strawberries are cholesterol-free.

Are Strawberries Good for You? A Look at Their Known Health Benefits

Strawberries are classified as whole foods, meaning they're not modified or processed. They are low in calories yet high in nutrients, so you get the most nutritional bang for your caloric buck, so to speak. Fruits also have a high water content, which keeps you feeling fuller for longer.

Strawberries are also functional foods, meaning they are believed to offer benefits above and beyond their nutritional value.

Strawberries’ deep red hue isn’t just aesthetically appealing — it’s also connected to some of the fruit's health benefits. Strawberries get their color from pigments called anthocyanins. These antioxidant-rich chemicals help neutralize substances called free radicals, which are harmful to the body's cells. Over time, free radicals can harm numerous systems in the body and promote disease.

Some of strawberries’ health benefits are outlined in the USDA's?MyPlate?guidelines.
According to a review of clinical studies published in the?Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, strawberries may help ward off cellular inflammation, which is associated with various illnesses, as well as lower your risk of the following:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Heart disease
  • Neurological issues
  • Certain cancers

Are Strawberries a Good Food for Weight Loss?

In addition to the significant health benefits already mentioned, some clinical studies suggest strawberries may help with obesity-related conditions.

Eating strawberries alone won’t help you lose weight, but the berries are helpful for a weight loss plan, because they’re low in calories but high in fiber to keep you full.

Eating more low-calorie foods can create the calorie deficit needed to lose weight — that’s 3,500 calories per pound of body fat.

Trading candies and other sweets for strawberries can add up over time to help you lose unwanted weight.

How to Select and Store Strawberries for the Best Flavor

The naturally tender flesh of strawberries means they bruise easily. Take care when picking your own that you don’t squeeze them. Inspect all store-bought and farmers market containers to make sure none of the strawberries are discolored or soft. Ideally, the strawberries ought to be fully red, plump, and firm. Smaller berries also tend to have more flavor.

Once you get home, place your strawberries in the refrigerator right away — they’ll stay fresh in the refrigerator for three days or more, depending on their quality.

This will also help preserve the fruit’s vitamin C content, which is very sensitive to heat. Don’t wash the berries until you’re ready to eat them, to prevent mold and blemishing.
When you’re ready to eat your strawberries, rinse them with cold water and drain. You can do this in the original package or in a strainer. Gently blot them dry after rinsing.

You’ll gain the most health benefits from eating fresh strawberries whole or sliced (rather than in the form of processed foods like strawberry jams or fruit snacks, which may contain added sugars or other less-healthy ingredients). You can enjoy them by themselves as a snack or add them to oatmeal, yogurt, or other nutritious foods. Strawberries also make great additions to smoothies and healthy desserts.

If strawberries are out of season, or not grown locally to you, consider adding frozen strawberries to your freezer. Frozen berries are often picked at their peak freshness and retain their nutritional benefits, making them a great (and often more economical) option if fresh strawberries aren’t easily available to you.

Strawberry Recipe Ideas From Everyday Health

While strawberries are delicious on their own, these recipes will inspire you to mix things up a bit.

Another Possible Use of Strawberries: They’re Good for Your Skin

Because of strawberries’ high antioxidant content, some research has examined their potential benefits to the skin. For example, one study found that strawberry compounds applied topically may help protect the skin from free radicals, which can lead to premature aging and wrinkles.

You’ll likely even find strawberry-infused masks, cleansers, and other skin-care products at your local beauty store; some research suggests they protect skin from the sun’s harmful rays.

Don’t put down the SPF just yet, though — this study was carried out in vitro, using human skin cell samples, rather than in a real-world scenario. More research is needed to determine the exact effect that strawberry extracts might have on the skin.

The Potential Side Effects of Eating Too Many Strawberries

Though generally safe when consumed in moderate amounts, strawberries aren’t completely risk-free. Their high fiber content means that, if you eat too much too quickly, you may experience gastrointestinal?upset (such as gas, abdominal bloating or pain, and cramps). Increase the amount of fiber you eat gradually and be sure to drink plenty of water.

Another more serious risk is an allergic reaction. Though not considered as common as pollen and other types of allergies, strawberry allergies may occur in people who are allergic to other plants in the?Rosaceae?family. Some reports indicate reactions in people who also have?food allergies?to cherries and?grapes.

When it comes to fruit allergies, peaches, apples, and kiwis are the most common.

These fruits are also part of the?Rosaceae?family.

Food allergies may cause multiple symptoms, including:

  • Hives
  • Rash
  • Itchy skin
  • Red, blue, or pale skin
  • Swelling, especially around the mouth and tongue
  • Difficulty talking and swallowing
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
Symptoms from a strawberry allergy may develop within 5 to 15 minutes after consumption.

While a strawberry allergy?isn't as common a food allergy as one to eggs or nuts, the associated risks can be just as significant. If you experience any of the above symptoms, avoid the berries and talk to your doctor about?allergy testing. Food allergies also put you at risk for?anaphylaxis, which is a serious reaction that can lead to shock or even death.

Common Questions & Answers

How many carbs are in strawberries?
There are nearly 8 g of carbs in a ? cup serving of raw strawberries, per the USDA. These are derived from naturally occurring sugars that all fruits have. Such a small serving isn’t likely to be unhealthy for the average person, as carbohydrates are your body’s main source of energy.
Is it bad to eat strawberries every single day?

It’s not necessarily bad to eat strawberries every day, but a healthy diet is balanced?and incorporates a variety of foods. To keep your diet interesting and healthy, try incorporating other berries into your diet, too, like blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries, which offer similar nutritional benefits. And watch your portions if you generally eat a low-fiber diet: a ? cup serving is a good starting point, since suddenly adding a lot of fiber to your diet could lead to a stomachache, diarrhea, and other unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects.

What’s the difference between a strawberry allergy and an intolerance?
A food intolerance is when your body doesn’t respond well to a certain food, or you eat too much of it. Food allergies can cause skin, neurological, and circulatory issues, or, in severe cases, anaphylaxis. If you suspect you have either, consult your doctor.
What is a “strawberry tongue”?

A strawberry tongue refers to the occurrence of small bumps on your tongue that look like strawberry bumps (seeds). This has nothing to do with the actual fruit, though. Strawberry tongue can be a sign of a medical condition, such as Kawasaki’s disease.

Should I stick with organic strawberries only?

The organization Environmental Working Group (EWG) placed strawberries as No. 1 on their 2022 “Dirty Dozen” list of produce with the most pesticide residue. If you want to avoid possible pesticide contamination, your best bet is to eat organic strawberries if you can. These are more affordable when the berries are in season. Freezing strawberries can provide opportunities for future use. Alternatively, it’s better to eat conventionally grown strawberries than no strawberries at all.

Summary

Strawberries are a nutritious whole food that you should consider adding to your diet. High in vitamin C and fiber but low in calories, they carry many nutritional benefits and may fit into a weight loss diet. You can enjoy strawberries whole or as part of a salad, smoothie, or healthy dessert. Frozen strawberries may be a convenient (and equally nutritious) option if fresh strawberries are not in season or easily found near you.

Editorial Sources and Fact-Checking

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